I don’t want anyone to misunderstand this post. I am not calling for an abandonment of “study Bibles.” If I did that, I would have to have a big bonfire in my backyard. I have accumulated a shelf (or more) of them over the years. Each has proved to be of value in some part of my spiritual formation.
But a while back, the Inner Voice seemed to be saying, “How about ‘just’ a Bible?” How about a Bible that only has “bible words” in it? How about a direct reading of Scripture, rather than through the words of someone else?
The questions “rippled” into some other shelves in my library—all my “devotional books”—the books (many of them written by significant influencers in my formation) that “comment” on some bible passage.
How about “just” reading the Bible? The question stuck.
Like a person addicted to cigarettes, I have “cut way back” on my use of study bibles and devotional books. It has felt like removing clutter. It has created more of a straight line between God’s Word and my life. It has forced me to listen to the Spirit more than Oswald Chambers, or some other valued spiritual guide. Without realizing it, or intending it, I had drifted into paying more attention to their words than to THE Word.
This blog is really a testimony, not a criticism—and surely not a universal mandate. I only want to bear witness that a direct reading of the Bible yields good spiritual food. The interaction between the Holy Spirit and my spirit creates a “devotional experience” that does not require a third-party to produce it.
Here’s the part I would like for you to consider. Use whatever secondary resources that you find valuable in your spiritual formation. But use them only AFTER you have allowed the Bible to make its direct impression in your mind and heart. In other words, don’t use the secondary materials to “create” the devotional experience. I tell you it can happen if all you have is “just” a Bible.